Share the Love: Analyzing Oregon Recruiting and Super Mario

Ugly Duckling Editorials

My Friends, our Friend in the comments, Ugly Duckling, contributed quite an impressive article that I highly recommend reading. Articles like this give me a break on an occasional week, and I do appreciate it. Have something to say and want it to be published? Send it to in a Word Document and give us your thoughts.  They have to be at least 500 words and normally we don’t want it much over 1,000 … but this writer got an exception as he got us locked in as you read the article.  Charles Fischer

Where will the Oregon Ducks finish in 2018 National Recruiting Rankings? What are some key things to look for in recruiting and rankings? I’ve created a little indicator, an inexact guide in this article so you can gauge Oregon’s potential finish in recruiting. You can see where we are now, where we need to be to finish in the top 10 and why the quality of each recruit matters.


Recruiting measurements can vary quite a bit. Just to give you an absurd example, in 2013, Texas A&M and Georgia finished No. 11 and No. 12 in national recruiting, just points ahead of USC, who finished at No. 13 nationally and second in the Pac-12 (UCLA was first in the Pac-12 and No. 8 nationally). The problem with just looking at “points” for recruiting rankings is that in 2013 USC only had twelve total recruits for that year, while Texas A&M and Georgia had thirty or more. Yet, USC placed just one place behind them. Why?

Can Mario Cristobal recruit another 5-Star like Royce Freeman?

Many recruiting sites use a 5-star ranking system, with 5-stars as the highest ranking. In 2013, USC was ranked No. 13 because five of their twelve recruits were 5-star players and given a higher “point” value in the points system, where you multiply the value of a recruit by a number. The other seven of USC’s 2013 recruits were 4-star players. USC averaged a whopping 4.42 average recruit ranking. (The reason USC had twelve recruits is not discussed here, but see comments below if others would comment.) “points” system in 2018.
5-star recruit gets 150 points
4-star recruit gets 105-135 points
3-star recruit gets 60-90 points
2-star recruit gets 15-45 points

In short, a high 4-star or a 5-star recruit is equivalent to two 3-star recruits. Yes, it’s a top-heavy weighted system. (The discussion is simplified here.) The whole science or, perhaps, art of ranking recruits is always going to be inexact. It’s skewed by teams on probation or scholarship limitations; it’s skewed by teams over-signing and getting a higher ranking with 33 players than another team with 25 players. It’s skewed by the evaluators not being able to gauge a player’s talent and rating them lower than they would later show they deserved. It is, though, better than nothing.


There is another way to look at college recruiting rankings. It’s still inexact, but it is the average recruit ranking. I’ve reviewed last year’s 2018 recruiting class (the last signing day was in February 2018) and came up with an inexact guideline to help us view Oregon past and present:

INEXACT GUIDELINE: 2018 (last year) Average Recruit Rank and Range (TOP 50 teams)
1-5 4.00 average recruit ranking (range from 3.67 to 4.28)
6-10 3.75 average recruit ranking (range from 3.61 to 4.06)
11-15 3.50 average recruit ranking (range from 3.42 to 3.67)
16-20 3.40 average recruit ranking (range from 3.14 to 3.78)
21-25 3.25 average recruit ranking (range from 3.14 to 3.32)
26-30 3.15 average recruit ranking (range from 3.04 to 3.23)
31-35 3.05 average recruit ranking (range from 2.91 to 3.13)
36-40 3.00 average recruit ranking (range from 2.85 to 3.10)
41-45 2.95 average recruit ranking (range from 2.82 to 3.08)
46-50 2.90 average recruit ranking (range from 2.76 to 2.96)

So, above, the Top 5 teams (1-5) in the nation have an average recruit ranking near 4.00 per recruit, and the average recruit ranking varied for the top five teams in the points systems between 3.67 per player and 4.28. By the time you’re at No. 46-No. 50 in national ranking (2.90), the average team is recruiting a 3-star recruit across the board. In summary, Top 10 recruiting teams are pushing to average around 4-stars per recruit: 3.75 to 4.00 stars out of a 5.00-star rating.


Mike Bellotti developed a lot of 3-Star players into great performers for the Ducks.

So now that you have a guideline, let’s compare the history of Oregon football recruiting and average recruit ranking. What follows is a summary from 2002 to present of how Oregon coaches have ranked per their average recruit ranking. (Source: which only goes back to 2002.)

Oregon Coaches Average Recruit Ranking (2002 to present)
2.91 average recruit ranking: Mike Bellotti era (2002-2008: W-L: 56-32)
3.30 average recruit ranking: Chip Kelly era (2009-2012: W-L: 46-7)
3.19 average recruit ranking: Mark Helfrich era (2013-2016: W-L: 37-16)
3.32 average recruit ranking: Willie Taggart year (2017: W-L: 7-5)
3.56 average recruit ranking: Mario Cristobal era (2018-2019 class not final: W-L: 8-5) WHOA!

Here are some interesting tidbits. Bellotti and his staff coached up 3-star recruits to success, as the 2.91 average suggests, but there were also a couple of 7-6 (W-L) years and one 5-6 year in there with the 10-2 and 10-3 seasons. Chip Kelly’s first recruiting year was 2.92 average per recruit, consistent with what he had inherited from Bellotti. But then Kelly pushed Oregon into recruiting stratospheres we’d not seen before; in the next three years: 3.33, 3.57, 3.38. This consistency was totally new for Oregon. Kelly recruited like no other Oregon coach before him.

Helfrich started off with a 3.26 average recruit rank post-Kelly, but by his fourth year he had returned Oregon close to its historical norms at a 3.00 average. It was widely believed by fans and the media that no one could recruit to Eugene, Oregon.

Willie Taggart came in and in his first year knocked off Chip Kelly’s average (3.30) with a 3.32 average ranking per recruit, and he only had a month or two to do it, flipping last-minute recruits like Jordon Scott and Braxton Burmeister. Mario Cristobal salvaged the first recruiting class post-Taggart by topping both Chip Kelly and Willie Taggart with an average recruit ranking of 3.42. Whoa! Do you remember the drama of last year? Cristobal still beat both Taggart and Kelly’s average with that!

And then the unexpected happened …


For this year’s 2019 recruiting class, as of early December 2018, Mario Cristobal and his staff have pulled in an average recruit ranking of 3.70. That’s a number that puts Oregon at its highest ever average recruit ranking. Ever. Again, we’re not talking about the number of recruits, and we’re not talking about national rankings, but we are talking about the quality of each recruit. Chip Kelly had one year at a 3.57 average recruit ranking ― that was 2011; that 2011 recruiting class was the No. 9 ranked class in the nation, with 23 recruits: De’Anthony Thomas, Jake Fisher, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Marcus Mariota, etc. A couple of years later, in 2015, Oregon played in the National Championship game. Again, the ranking in 2011 was Oregon’s highest ever ranking for quality of players at an average recruit ranking of 3.57 stars.

What a class Jake Fisher was a part of, and he’s still in the NFL with the Bengals!

But in the 2019 recruiting class, Mario Cristobal and staff have an average recruit ranking of 3.70 stars. Ding, ding, ding. Are you sensing something about this Cristobalian revolution at Oregon?

This is top 10-ish talent across the board coming into the Oregon Ducks.

Buckle up, Dorothy. Quack, quack. This could get fun fast.

Oregon could be stepping back on the national stage with talent we have never seen before across the whole roster. Within two years, Oregon will be the most talented team in the future Pac-12, awash with talent and depth across every position. The rest of the Pac-12 will be competing to get Oregon’s level of talent. (NOTE: Currently, Washington has a 3.42 average recruit ranking this year; USC 3.13, Utah 3.11, UCLA 2.82, Stanford 3.24, Washington State 2.60, Oregon State 2.43, etc). I suspect the resurgence of the Pac-12 as a conference could be led by Mario Cristobal and The Oregon Ducks. It’s a reason to encourage the recruits to come to OREGON. Oregon rising. Join the flock. Mighty Oregon!

Yes, it’s a mad dash to the end and signing day. You’re trying to keep the recruits you have and trying to show other recruits that the revolution is real so they flip — that there is a reason to be excited.


So, in the comments below, I want you to muse on the history of Oregon Ducks football, and I’d like you to place yourself in the living room of a recruit. I want you to be a coach, and I want you to sell me as a recruit on my future in the Oregon Ducks football program.

Get into it like this fan!

Share the history or tradition that you’ve experienced, share the future and the glory yet to be revealed. Share your memories and highlights. Share the history of GameDay after GameDay coming to Eugene. Share the flash and the glitz, the unis and the gloves. Tell me about all the players in the NFL. Tell me what Autzen is like. Tell my family about Eugene, the fans. Talk to me about their education and academic support. Praise the coaches and tell them what will happen to a recruit when they come to Eugene.

For those pessimists out there, today you get a free Get-Out-of-Jail pass, so I want you to click your ruby slippers together three times, suspend disbelief for a day, and drink the Cristobal Kool-Aid. For those measured with a sense of reality, I’m asking you to push your comparative to a superlative and paint the town in green and yellow. For those of you filled with the rush of a starry-eyed romance or bromance with Mario Cristobal, share with us your vision of future championship rings and walking down the aisle of a future national championship.

Share your love, have fun and tell me and my family why you want me to come and play for you and become an OREGON DUCK. Quack, quack.

Ugly Duckling
Somewhere in Oregon

Top Photo of the recruiting visit by the coaches of the Jonah Tauanu’u family from Twitter


Andrew Mueller, the Volunteer Editor for this article, works in digital marketing in Chicago, Illinois.


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New 2024 FishDuck Publishing Schedule….

During the off-season the publishing schedule will consist of articles on Mondays and Tuesdays. Do keep checking as new articles could be published during the week when a writer has something to say.

In mid-August of 2024, we will go back to the seven-days-a-week of articles during the football season as we did in the football season of 2023.

The Our Beloved Ducks Forum (OBD) is where we we discuss the article above and many more topics, as it is so much easier in a message board format over there.  At the free OBD forum we will be posting Oregon Sports article links, the daily Press Releases from the Athletic Department and the news coming out every day.

Our 33 rules at the free OBD Forum can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) do not tell anyone what to think, feel or write, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!

OBD Forum members….we got your back.  No Trolls Allowed!